The many faces of galaxies : Learn to unlock the secrets of galaxy evolution

© ESO | Juan Carlos Muñoz Mateos
Images of galaxies, with their complex shapes and rich colours, are always jaw-dropping. But what do they actually tell us? In this article you will learn how to “read” these images much like an art expert does with paintings, allowing you to appreciate them at a whole new level.

Galaxies are complex systems of stars, gas and dust swirling together to the tune of gravity [1]. These three ingredients emit light at different colors or wavelengths; most of this radiation is invisible to the human eye, but it can be detected with specialized instruments. By assigning colors to these data and combining them we can produce impressive images of galaxies . This article is intended to help you understand the physics behind these images, so that you can appreciate them under a completely different new light.

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